Munster champions raise over $10,000 for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea

Posted 8 Jun 2021.

Don and Marian Byfield with Ashley Reid.

Pictured above: Don and Marian Byfield with our CEO, Ashley Reid.

Fundraising stalwarts and cancer survivors, Don and Marian Byfield, recently hosted their 15th annual Australia's Biggest Morning Tea with around 100 family and friends at Swan Yacht Club in East Fremantle, raising over $10,000 for Cancer Council WA.

Marian Byfield said they were thrilled to be able to host again this year after last year's event was scaled back due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

"2020 was such a tumultuous year, especially for people affected by cancer, so we are thrilled to be able to host Australia's Biggest Morning Tea in 2021," Marian said.

"For us, our morning tea is a chance for our friends and family to come together to reconnect and support those affected by cancer."

Marian said they decided to host their first morning tea in 2007, a few years after Don received the first of many grim pieces of news.

"In 2003, Don, a sturdy truck driver with a booming voice, woke up one Saturday morning with a lump on his neck," she said.

"Tests revealed Don had Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare skin cancer, and the doctors told us it was almost always fatal.

"Don was told surgery, chemotherapy and radiation would only buy him a few months to get his affairs in order. But Don beat the Merkel cell carcinoma and has spent the past 18 years continuing to baffle his doctors.

"He's had numerous squamous cell skin cancers removed, and cancer that spread through his ear, carotid nerve, mastoid bone and jugular that required shocking throat surgery, after which he was told he'd never speak again."

In 2016 Don was selected to trial a new immunology drug and his results were so good his doctor thought they were looking at the wrong scans. But in 2018, the Byfield's were dealt another couple of blows; Marian was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and Don's cancer had spread.

"The doctor was confident my cancer could be removed surgically but when I woke up after my operation, I learnt the cancer had spread to my cervix and lymph glands. That year they also found lymphoma in Don's abdomen," Marian said.

Despite all this, the Byfields remain positive and upbeat.

"I've just finished a round of chemo for a cancerous lymph node on my aorta and Don is still doing immunotherapy, but we're both still going and there's a lot of people worse off than us." 

"It's a life we've learnt to live and that's why we are really looking forward to having everyone together for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea this month," she said.

Our Community Engagement Manager, Simmone Sharp, said they were thrilled Don and Marian were able to host their Australia's Biggest Morning Tea again this year.

"Cancer Council WA is so grateful to Don and Marian for their extraordinary fundraising efforts," Ms Sharp said.

"In the past 15 years they have raised more than $50,000 to support those affected by cancer.

"We wish the Byfields and their supporters a successful Australia's Biggest Morning Tea and we hope their 2021 fundraiser lifts the community's spirits."

Host or join an Australia's Biggest Morning Tea this June to raise funds for Cancer Council's life-saving cancer research, prevention programs, advocacy and support services.

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